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University of Idaho center to study effects of de-icer

MOSCOW – Winter road management dilemma: anti-icing chemicals, now used on a large number of roadways in the winter, have proven to significantly reduce crash rates on icy roads.

However, the chemicals (predominately a form of chloride ) can corrode truck parts, including aluminum wheels, brakes and electrical wiring, and be detrimental to roadways, all of which can result in catastrophic failures as well.

A team from the Technology Transfer Center at the University of Idaho has begun a project to analyze winter road management practices and the pros and cons of using such anti-icing chemicals as calcium, magnesium and sodium chloride, and their corrosive effects.

They also will determine the run-off effects of such chemicals. With their findings, the team will develop an educational plan to reduce any associated problems.

"The American Trucking Associations documented resulting corrosion costs at approximately $23 billion annually," said Douglas Moore, director of the project. "This includes structural damage to trucks and highway infrastructure."
He said his team's unbiased study will bring together private industry, manufacturers, county, state, and federal governments and regulatory agencies to determine the scope of the problems and possible preventive measures.

The Idaho Technology Transfer Center is a part of UI's National Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology (NIATT) and Idaho’s Local Transportation Assistance Program (LHTAC). Resources include engineering, materials science and corrosion chemistry facilities. The Idaho Transportation Department and trucking industries will augment resources for the project.

Investigators besides Moore are Bruce Drewes, training and research manager, Clayton Sullivan, project manager, and select graduate students. They began the study last July and expect to have conclusions and training materials by 2006.